Part 4: Cardinal George’s Second Job

By Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.

In the last 14 months, he has made three trips on behalf of the USCCB: to Israel and the Palestinian Authority territories last January; to Rome for the spring meeting of the USCCB president and vice president (Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson) with the pope and with heads of several of the Holy See's offices; and then back to Rome for the Synod of Bishops on “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church” (October 4-25).

Cardinal George, one of four bishops representing the USCCB, served as the moderator of an English-language discussion group and was later elected to the 15-member Council of the Synod of Bishops. This group will meet twice a year to follow up on the synod's work and prepare for the next one (perhaps in 2011).

During the synod, Cardinal George and Bishop Kicanas also made their fall visit to the pope and several offices of the Holy See.

Early during the synod, Cardinal George said that the context in which we hear the text of Scripture draws our attention to the need for conversion. We can stop our souls from responding to God's Word.

Two days after the synod ended, he was back to a full schedule of meetings and events in the Archdiocese of Chicago.

During his presidential address on November 10, 2008, for the USCCB's fall general assembly, Cardinal George said: “As bishops we can only insist that those who would impose their own agenda on the Church, those who believe and act self-righteously, answerable only to themselves, whether ideologically on the left or the right, betray the Lord Jesus Christ.”

‘Provincialism Doesn't Serve the Church'

Asked last summer what he wishes U.S. Catholics would remember more often, Cardinal George immediately answers, “That the Catholic Church is a universal communion, working to transform the world. Provincialism doesn't serve the Church.” He wishes that non-Catholics in this country would recall more frequently the saints whom the Church has nurtured.

In his presidential address cited above, Cardinal George said: “What the Church [in the United States] looks like today in her ethnic composition, her economic situation, her generational cohorts, the entire country will look like in 25 to 30 years. This gives Catholics a perhaps prophetic perspective on our society's life and concerns.

“In Holy Scripture, a true prophet's life is always marked by suffering. What is of major importance to us, as bishops of the Church, is that the Church remain true to herself and her Lord in the years to come, for only in being authentically herself will the Church serve society and its members, in time and in eternity.”

With strong faith, Cardinal George faces the immense challenges of his “second job.”

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Fourth of four parts. The full article can be found at St. Anthony Messenger.
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Father Pat McCloskey, O.F.M., is editor of this publication. He interviewed Bishops Joseph Fiorenza, Wilton Gregory and William Skylstad during their terms as president of the bishops' conference.


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